In My Opinion

Fabiola Santiago: Texas is welcome to keep tea party darling Ted Cruz

I don’t need the comic strips anymore to add levity to my morning cafecito.

I have Ted Cruz.

When I signed on Tuesday morning to Twitter, the Republican senator from Texas — the Canada-born son of an American woman and a Cuban man — was trending in Miami.

One set of news stories reported Cruz renouncing his alleged Canadian citizenship.

“You can have him!” one Canadian headline said.

Another set of news stories had Cruz saying that President Barack Obama had exempted Congress from the Affordable Care Act.

No, senator, most likely, the well-insured members of Congress will get to pay the “Cadillac Tax.”

The over-eager tea party darling, who has managed to annoy fellow elected officials on both sides of the political aisle in his freshman stint, appears to be already eyeing the White House in 2016.

But he was born in cold Calgary, Alberta, in 1970 and lived there until he was 4 years old, a prickly issue for birthers who persecuted Hawaii-born Obama but support Cruz’s ultra-conservative views.

“Because my mother was a U.S. citizen, born in Delaware, I was a U.S. citizen by birth,” Cruz insisted in a statement. “When I was a kid, my Mom told me that I could choose to claim Canadian citizenship if I wanted. I got my U.S. passport in high school…Now The Dallas Morning News says that I may technically have dual citizenship. Assuming that is true, then sure, I will renounce any Canadian citizenship. Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth and as a U.S. senator, I believe I should be only an American.”

I could hear the late-night jokes already.

But when I clicked on a picture of Cruz’s birth certificate, I burst out laughing so hard I spilled my cafecito.

Turns out that Rafael Edward Cruz (the senator’s real name) is the son of Rafael Bienvenido Cruz, a Cuban exile from none other than Matanzas — my proud birth place, home to poets, creators of guaguancó music and natives so clever they tricked the first Spaniards to arrive into hopping in canoes and drowned them all in a river. Hence, legend goes, the city’s name, which means “slaughter.”

So regardless of what Sen. Cruz wants to be, in Miami, he’s considered a matancero.

His birth certificate says so.

The last time I laughed this hard was when Mitt Romney coined “self-deport” during a Florida campaign stop, and the first thing that came to my mind was, can I apply for government-funded self-deportation to Paris?

We know how that story ended. He self-deported from the campaign trail back to Massachusetts.

So here’s my advice for Sen. Cruz: Sip a sturdy café at Versailles; wear a crisp linen guayabera and take out of the closet the father from Matanzas.

Here — whether we’re members of the Italian American Civic League in Wilton Manors or the Alliance Française in Miami or have no affiliation but deep roots that shape our hearts — we honor who we are.

It’s our strength, and if there’s one thing we loathe, it’s a cubano arrepentido, one who denies his heritage.

Maybe the gentler, kinder Canadians will forgive the rudeness, but here the senator will have to buy a T-shirt that boasts, “ Mi papá es matancero.”

Or forget about the presidency.

But better yet, Houston, you can have him.

Those cafecito stains are tough to wipe off.

Read more Fabiola Santiago stories from the Miami Herald

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